Sometimes you want a novel to do more than tell a story. You want it to mix a dashing male lead who pays homage to Jane Austen's characters with a spunky heroine who conjures memories of Scarlett O'Hara and dramatic settings in the tradition of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Oh yes - and you want the said novel to be an easy, light read with a pace that can keep up with its lively characters. You want something that doesn't require a lot of effort or thought, but provides a great deal of drama and sass. When you're in such a mood, Daisy Goodwin's The American Heiress
(titled My Last Duchess
in the U.K.) fits the bill.
Pieces of this debut novel from Daisy Goodwin remind me of the young adult novels I enjoyed as a preteen: the Journey to America series, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
by Avi, and even The Swiss Family Robinson
. These stories...
Beyond the Book
During the Gilded Age (1865-1914), America experienced a boom in railroad tycoons and oil barons, and a great deal of wealth was concentrated in the real estate of Newport, Rhode Island. Wealthy families like the Vanderbilts and Astors flocked to Newport each summer, and as their appreciation for the New England coast grew, they built opulent mansions that were affectionately referred to as summer "cottages." These stately homes are immortalized in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence
, from which Daisy Goodwin draws inspiration for The American Heiress
Many of the Newport mansions are constructed...